Jamaica Records Lowest First Quarter Murder Rate in 7 Years

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang.
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JAMAICA OBSERVER- For the first quarter of 2023, Jamaica recorded its lowest murder rate for a first quarter in the last seven years, according to Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang.

“Since the start of this year and up to April 22, 2023, murders committed in the country have reduced by 17 per cent, compared to 2022. Overall, major crimes are down 20 per cent,” Dr Chang, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, said.

He was making his contribution to the 2023/24 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives, on Tuesday.

Chang also argued that although crime remains a serious issue for Jamaicans, crime victimisation and feelings of insecurity have been significantly reduced at the community level.

Specifically, the 2021 Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) Survey reported Jamaica as having a crime victimisation rate of seven per cent and only 18 per cent of Jamaicans felt insecure in their communities.

“It is evident that the increased presence and visibility of the police officers resulting from our strategic investment, and the training we are giving them, is beginning to restore some confidence at the community level,” he said.

“On the other hand, while the police continue to impact community safety by reducing certain types of criminal activities, we are seeing the organised criminal terrorists changing their operations and impacting the national mood of the country,” he added.

The minister said the security forces have observed that the criminal terrorists are operating in organised alliances to hit high-value targets.

He pointed out that these kinds of criminal activities tend to generate heightened national concern, such as the stealing of ATMs, having acquired the equipment to rapidly extract, the targeting of cash-in-transit and other cash-heavy locations.

Chang further noted that inter-gang wars have been reduced, but the impact of criminal terrorist alliances carrying out these types of activities has significantly affected the national psyche.

“The police have built up intelligence, analysed their activities and are developing effective strategic deployments. We continue to expand and improve our intelligence capabilities to ensure they have all the tools required for strong effective policing, including legislative tools such as the zones of special operations (ZOSOs) and states of public emergency (SOEs),” he said.

Chang noted that SOEs save lives and reduce the activities of the criminal terrorists.

“This impact is well established. The SOE is one of our best tools to disrupt gangs and save lives. The murder trend since October 2022… illustrates that the weeks following the declaration of SOEs typically experience significant reduction in murders. In the weeks that recorded the lowest weekly murders, all fell within the two-week period of the SOE,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, he said the investment in the police to upgrade mobility and effective presence is contributing to significant improvements in public safety.

He noted that murder, which is largely a retaliatory crime, has remained over the 1,000 mark for the last 23 years, with only noticeable declines during and immediately after the states of public emergency.

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